LotRO Update 23; Desperate For Blood, Will Settle For Cyberpunk

Another bi-monthly post. The LotRO devs are working towards releasing LotrO Update 23 soon, which will take us to the Iron Hills and Grey Mountains. I’m kind of psyched.

The level cap will increase to 120. There will be new resource instances to plunder, a new crafting tier, and various balancing changes. I’m not a huge dwarf fan, but new dungeons using dwarf tile sets (i.e. Moria-like) might be nice.

In the past few months, I’ve mostly just done LotRO and Hearthstone dailies. I’ve played a lot of Fallout 4. I might be finished with Hearthstone. It’s a been-there done-that situation, and Blizz is just milking the mobile game cash cow at this point.

Last night I was searching desperately for a vampire game! It’s hard to believe the best vampire game, action, RPG, or otherwise, is 14 years old now. (Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines). The game has such high ratings. Why can’t anyone make another one?

I found a cool mod for Fallout 4 that lets you play as a vampire (Atomguard), but I feel like I’d have to start my game completely over with an evil character.

I don’t know. I’d probably rather go back and play Saint’s Row The Third more with the Bloodsucker Pack. So I’m re-installing that right now with Steam. We’ll see.

Upcoming Call of Cthulhu looks interesting, but you’re forced to play a bearded old male protagonist, just like Red Dead Redemption 2. Evidently allowing people to play the character they want isn’t important.

It’s frustrating that certain game companies, like Take Two, would rather force you to play their pre-set character than go to the extra effort allowing you to be who you want to be.

I still need to play Far Cry 5, but I’m waiting for a sale. I’m mostly looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077. We saw a spectacular teaser video for Cyberpunk 2077 at E3, and some very positive word of mouth coming out of Gamescom last week.

Edit- Also, today a 48-minute gameplay video for Cyberpunk 2077 was released. Still no release date for the game, though.

Stocks and Market

Looking back at my last post 2 months ago, I’m not holding any of those stocks anymore. I took profits in GAMR ETF, and sold JD, LH, and TAN for either small gains or small losses, while the market bounced up and down.

JD.com was a pick in my last post, but it was a disaster due to the Trump trade war. Everything China is down pretty big now. I also picked Sony (SNE) in my last post in June, and that was a good pick. It’s up about 10% since then.

Tencent stock was slaughtered last week partly due to China problems, and partly because the Chinese government is holding up their new game approvals, including Fortnite. So they can’t publish any new games right now, for no apparent reason. This is crazy.

I took profits in Tencent (TCEHY – OTC) a few months ago, thankfully. The stock has developed a very well-established bearish trend line since then. If the stock breaks from that line, I might be a re-buyer. Until then there is no point in taking the risk.

edit 8/30/2018 – actually, China appears to be declaring war on video games. Netease and Tencent, and Japanese companies are getting crushed today. This casts a long-term cloud of uncertainty over all companies doing game business in China.

Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts are seeing some strong bids right now, as in, yesterday. And probably Monday. I predicted a weaker year for video games and stocks. That has mostly come true in the earnings reports. Blizzard’s stock dropped after earnings on August 3, and they gave a mixed to weak outlook.

The stock charts of EA and ATVI are setting up very nicely right now though. If you’ve been wanting to get in, Monday could be a decent buy on these two stocks. If you look at the GAMR ETF, however, representing the gaming industry as a whole, the chart is making a “lower low”. The chart isn’t quite as good, and might be bearish.

My only video game holding right now is NVidia. After taking profits earlier this year, I bought in again after the stock sold off on earnings last week. I am up 8% already.

I am also buying the cloud ETF (SKYY), which has been a free ETF on TD Ameritrade all summer. The chart for it is beautiful. Cloud companies have reported generally very strong results in the past month. Cloud is kind of old news now, but SKYY is still significantly outperforming the S&P index.

Video games are increasingly going to be cloud-based, Barron’s reports. “There’s going to be more change in videogames in the next five years than there has been in the past generation,” predicts EA’s chief technology officer, Ken Moss.

My Kitty stock pick for this post was going to be Arista Networks (ANET), based on a breakout from several months of consolidation, and some news/research reasons. I purchased Arista a few days ago, then doubled down at market open yesterday, and in two days it’s already up about 10%.

So it’s too late to tell you to have a look at it.

It was partly the chart, and partly lucky timing. They announced ANET will be added to the S&P index on ~August 28, which means a bunch of S&P index ETFs will need to buy the stock. A 8-10% price boost from that news seems typical. I knew that from experience, so doubling my initial position immediately after the news, when the stock was up only 4%, was a play I made, and it paid off.

In other news, J.P. Morgan Chase is offering a new trading app with like 100 free trades a year. If you are with Chase bank you might want to check this out.

Personal, Game Project

This summer I completed a small number of in-game library books (in addition to the Botany book I mentioned in my last post.) These include a poetry book, a book on T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland, a book on the great courts of the Underworld, and a book about crystal magic.

I think I’ve solved my game save code bug, so you should be able to go check out my game and WIP at gatokitty.org. Click on in, and from your room you can visit the library. Or go on an adventure! I would welcome any feedback.

I’m working on random encounters right now for the Haunted Library. So the start of the library is unfinished. And the outfits are all unlocked, but the “exotic” outfits are not finished. I need to do that also.

The game is obviously a bilingual reading game, but you can control the language options if you only want to play in English. I spent the entire last week translating adventure module A2 into Spanish.

I want the game to be like a Tunnels and Trolls module, a Choose Your Adventure with some gear, limited combat, and saving throws, with companions and a small party.

And I want a lot of Scooby Doo influence, but for a more mature modern world that isn’t so afraid of demons and boobs. Oh wait, it’s 2018 and boobs are still illegal.

That’s about all for now. Happy gaming, and I’ll hope to see you in the lands of the dwarves soon in LotRO.


Just An Update, Usual Topics: Stocks, Game Project, Elves

Two months since my last post. Yikes. This week I let my second account sub expire from LotRO. I’m just not motivated to grind more pointless endgame gear.

Elder Scrolls Online is releasing its High Elf update this week, following its Morrowind update. I almost re-installed just for the elf experiences, but I talked myself down from the ledge. Every time I re-install ESO, I find the interface, navigation, and character system to be so frustrating.

Ironically, un-playability is much more immersion breaking than a more complicated, usable interface. So I re-installed Fallout 4, which is more suitable for Bethesda’s design imperatives, and I’m playing that a bit.

Last night I reached rank 15 in Hearthstone playing Even Warlock, after giving up on Odd Rogue. That’s about all for gaming.

Stocks And Market

The U.S. stock market is not dead yet. I lost some money hedging against a collapse in the last month, but I’ve felt forced to push back into the market in the last few weeks with the profits I previously took in Tencent and NVidia.

Tencent is in the news right now for its ownership of Fortnite. It’s funny that Fortnite is sort of a name drop now by pro analysts on CNBC, so they can sound like they know what they are talking about. I LOL at these people, honestly.

So I basically traded my relatively risky amount of pure Tencent OTC pink sheets stock for more GAMR ETF, and a solid position in the EMQQ ETF (Emerging Markets Tech). Tencent is in both of those. EMQQ also has concentrated exposure to companies like NetEase, JD.com, Baidu, and Yandex, which I would like to own but don’t merit positions of their own. So.

JD.com (JD) is my Kitty watch of the week. I may buy into this on a trade in the next few days. It’s on the verge of breaking out of a big downtrend, and CNBC today reported a lot of option calls being bought. Albemarle (ALB) is also in a big, possibly buyable pullback for various reasons.

The risk is that there is a lot of China problems around the big T. I mean, President Trumpetface. So you could easily buy big on a JD price breakout, and then get slammed the next day because of a tweet.

I also picked up the TAN (solar) ETF, on the day that California announced all new houses have to have solar panels. I also bought a half position in LH (Labcorp), which is U.S. based healthcare lab service, not very ‘Amazonable’, and not very exposed to the strengthening dollar. LH was a great pick so far.

Lastly I pushed a modest half position into Visa, because I’ve finally concluded that Americans just aren’t giving up their credit cards anytime soon, despite Apple Pay, Google Pay, and various challengers.

I still think crypto currencies per se, in themselves as they exist now, are fool’s vapor to invest in, and I can’t believe the genre has like three ETFs dedicated to it.

Visa is the first to go if I feel forced to trim positions, however. There is a lot of financial risk in the system, and Visa has run very big, as noted by analysts this week.

Sony is taking massive stock price hits recently, most recently noting their PS4 hardware is in decline, and their next Playstation version is at least 3 years away. Still, it could be a buying opportunity.

In my last post, I noted accolades from Jim Cramer about Activision Blizzard. This week I learned Cramer has sold his ATVI (like I did also). But now he admits he may have sold too soon, when asked about the upcoming Black Ops 4 offering a Fortnite-like game mode.

As a final note, if you look at a 5 or 10 year chart of the U.S. stock market, it still looks scarily ‘toppy’ even after a 4-month pullback and consolidation. Recession risks are increasing. Europe and Asia had some weak data come out in the last couple weeks.

It isn’t a situation to be aggressive. It seems prudent to stay patient until some crap really hits the fan. I am still over 50% in cash.

Personal Game Project

This is an enormous amount of work. I’m currently writing an illustrated short book on botany. For the school library. In my game.

So I’m re-learning a lot of botany that I learned in college with my Biology degree.

Like in Elder Scrolls, reading the book gives you a permanent stat bonus. In this case, to your Scholar profession. Unlike in Elder Scrolls, you have to actually read the book. And answer thoughtful challenge questions correctly.

So I’m working my full time job, and I’m writing like 2 pages of this botany book per day during the last week. At this rate, developing my game is going to be a fine retirement activity for me in a few decades.

Still, I really enjoy the writing of non-fiction, learning things, and illustrating. My game is about learning to be an elf (probably a bit more so than learning witchcraft/wizardry), so I need to learn botany. This has been my #1 preoccupation in the past few weeks, other than moving into a new apartment.

I want the entire game lore – world and characters in it – to basically be in the school library. So when I need to look up something, like a geographical location or major NPC, I’m going to the library just like a player.

Also the library is haunted. And you won’t be alone. There will be a library fairy, or someone else there. I tend to be a lonely person, so I can feel what I need in the game in terms of companionship, and making the NPCs seem alive. I’m basically making the game I want to play.

That’s about it for now. I noticed Justin Olivetti is up to his old elf-hating ways. On your knees and scrub for those elves, Justin! Scrub it!

Kudos to Justin though for writing a fantasy novel. Wow. I try to squeeze a lot of creative and gaming energy into life compared to most people, but I live alone with no pets, no kids, nothing. I don’t know how he finds the time for everything he has going on.

So E3 is coming very soon, starting June 12. Will we see some amazing new releases? I hope so.

Mirkwood, Gaming Stocks, And Development Notes

LotRO’s recent Mirkwood update is actually really good. I’ve played through it completely with my main, and I’m working on an alt.

It’s clear the small LotRO team is working very hard, and they deserve some accolades for some of the highest quality content LotRO has seen in a long time.

The player base in general seems a little detached and apathetic, however. I’m concerned that the difficulty level of Mordor, and again of Mirkwood, may have expelled a significant number of players.

LotRO’s most recent update completely revamped the character selection panel, with overall improved results. Today I uploaded an update to my custom interface, which repairs some of the damage caused by the interface changes.

Gaming Stocks

The past month and the week before last saw record inflows into ETFs according to CNBC. I take these flows to be average people, including mom and pop, chasing this bounce. This is BEARISH, not bullish. it’s also stupid at this time of record uncertainty, risk, and rising interest rates.

These investors were face planted this week when the market crashed again due to various factors, especially Trump’s trade war with China.

Friday’s drop took the S&P index exactly to the critical level it needs to hold relative to the previous low several weeks ago.

The overall sentiment on Wall Street is that it won’t hold, which is my sentiment also. This is why I’ve been taking profits for the last month.

In my last post I bought Google and sold Albemarle. I took quick profits in Google after that. I more recently sold Nvidia (NVDA) and Tencent (TCEHY) both for 120% gains.

I’m currently as little exposed to the market as I’ve been in a very long time. I actually tried to go short the market at the recent top, but got shook out, missing a huge gain to date in inverse 2x short S&P (SDS).

In that case I broke one of my rules, which is to wait until the very end of a day before allowing myself to get shaken out on a high conviction trade.

I was distracted by real life and couldn’t deal with having that much money on the table, basically. I really need to get past that and make 2x or 3x bets.

If you’re currently in the market, then I think it’s too late to sell anything. I also think it’s too early to risk buying, but we’ll just see. Let’s break down individual equities.

NVidia (NVDA) should be watched for a buying opportunity on this pullback, but it has all sorts of issues and headwinds:

1. Amazon and Google said they will start making their own chips (i.e. so they aren’t held hostage, are more secure due to proprietary, and don’t have to pay NVidia’s 50% margins.)

2. Self-driving cars are higher risk since the fatality last week in Phoenix. Uber suspended its testing, and Uber uses NVidia chips.

3. AMD strongly asserts it will take market share this year, presumably from NVidia.

4. China says it plans to make more of its own chips, presumably to be less dependent on the U.S., which actually tends to block Chinese chips and devices for security reasons.

Tencent said this week that their mobile games sales have weakened in China. Gamers are migrating to more sophisticated, less dumb games, like the PC games offered by Netease (NTES). This is a risk across the industry.

This is good news though for people like me who hate dumbed down games. I’ve been predicting a resurgence of the PC for years due to this exact effect. I also predicted a difficult year for game developers this year, because of increased competition.

Jim Cramer was championing Activision Blizzard (ATVI) on his show last week. He said ATVI is making a new modern Disney. That’s a bold claim.

Meanwhile, Blizzard’s Hearthstone is offering ever-increasing free stuff, including a much more generous 70 packs for the expansion purchase, instead of 60.

This seems to say they need to sweeten the pot to keep their customers, who are pressuring them publicly about the expensiveness of Hearthstone.

Current Picks

Currently my only gaming stock holding is a moderate position in the GAMR ETF. NVidia and Tencent moved from the portfolio to the watch list. Other stocks on my watch list are Taiwan Semiconductor (TSM), Albemarle (ALB), Equinix(EQIX), Labcorp (LH), and Visa (V).

TSM is pressured by a very strong drawdown in the chip industry right now, but it’s a huge independent chip fabricator, so it might benefit from China vs. U.S. chip wars, especially as a subcontractor if China pushes faster to become independent of the U.S. chip makers.

Visa has strong relative strength and, while TSM is hurt right now by being a part of chip ETFs, Visa is a big part of financial ETFs, which are expected to benefit from rising interest rates.

Equinix (EQIX) is my white whale. For years I’ve missed every opportunity at this stock. At some point, the real estate ETFs (REITs), will stop being pressured by rising interest rates, which, as I understand it, hurt these companies due to the high debt these run.

It would be very profitable to have the savvy to get back into the REITs at the right time during this rising interest rate cycle.

I don’t have the experience to know when that is, but I really like investing in internet operation infrastructure, which is mostly dependent on internet bandwidth usage, and less related to sales of chips and software. Maybe I could research this in the charts going back several years to prior cycles.

Personal Project

Today and yesterday I was watching Harry Potter movies over and over on HBO Now, trying to understand why some of them (i.e. Prisoner of Azkaban) are better than others (i.e. Chamber of Secrets.)

I think it’s better characters, conflict, and lots of amazing magical things happening, but I should put my observations and writer insights into another blog topic.

I’ve also been working hard on the story and art for my game, as usual. The above image for this post is from the “evil” tavern, where the general bad guys hang out.

You know – the evil wizards, the demons, etc. I won’t say pirates because in my game the pirates are counted as good guys. They are free humans, rebels against the dark Lord whose laws say all humans must be registered slaves.

I’m also still reading about fairy magic and lore. Supposedly the power of 5 (the pentagram) is more normally used and powerful for fairies than the power of 3. Good to know, because I was going with 3.

The Harry Potter movies notably don’t have a lot of pentagrams or other provocative imagery hanging around. Harry does form a trinity with Ron and Hermione, however.

And a final thanks to the one person last month who bought a copy of one of my books. Thanks for the cheeseburger, amigo…

North Mirkwood, Wow Multiclassing, Hearthstone, Etc.

Massively reported this week on the Northern Mirkwood update 22 for LotRO. I’m patching LotRO now. I’m morbidly curious to see if I’m kicked out of my LotRO kinship for inactivity, for like the 10th time.

When I finished the main story of Mordor (for all I know, there could be more of it now, honestly), I had no interest in grinding gear whatsoever. Just too much grinding, and confusing.

The sight of Mirkwood has me vaguely interested, since I’ve been completely unable to find an MMO replacement. My one month back in WoW didn’t persuade me to spend the next decade of my life grinding that game.

Massively wrote a speculative piece on WoW multi-classing this week. My main problem with WoW has always been the classes just never sticking with me. Are the classes in WoW just “dumbed down”? Maybe that’s why I’ve spent more time playing Rift than WoW.

Rift lost me on too many loot box and cash shop shenanigans, among other things. Hearthstone is pushing more promotional roulette wheel stuff, but effort you make in Hearthstone is never completely lost.

You can always dust your cards down the road (aka gear), use them in wild, etc. Maybe the Mech tribe will make a comeback, and unused cards will suddenly be playable, etc. Everyone wishes there were more achievements and things to do in Hearthstone though.

Politics and Market Commentary

The bounce. Is it a real ‘V’, or are we going down again? The news that Mueller is charging Russians for election meddling, but not the Trump campaign (yet), seems to take some steam off of the overhead of political risks in the short term. Yeah.

The initial big surge was the dip buyers, but after many, many months of no dips, that was expected. Some analysts insist the unwinding of volatility trades, among other things, will take weeks, not ten days, but things are looking pretty stable.

I went back big into GOOGL at the first of the week, because I liked the market action. I’m up 3%. The daily action looks fairly orderly to me, with money being put to work, not so much FOMO.

I am up 12% on RHT (RedHat) since last week, which is crazy. I mentioned LH (Labcorp) last week, and that has been insane too. I wish now that I had pushed. I would buy LH on another dip if we have one.

I sold ALB (Albemarle) already yesterday (Friday) at the peak of the market, within minutes of the announcement that Rosenstein was going to make a prepared statement. That was good timing.

I took 6% in ALB, and the reason I sold is that the dollar is holding support and bouncing, instead of breaking still lower. Kevin O’Leary stated he thinks the dollar has found a bottom, and he is acting accordingly. So, I decided maybe it’s a good idea to protect my profits.

Also, the breadth on this bounce is really not there. If the breadth increases on Mom and Pop Monday (Tuesday, this week due to holiday), then we could have a FOMO situation.

If FOMO hits this coming week, we could see panic buying into a double top pattern, and then who knows. Another big drop could cause lasting damage to morale of dip buyers. If breadth declines, then caveat emptor even more.


Ok, LotRO is done patching. Time to look up my password, log in, and see what happens. I see a lot of people in Mordor. I see the normal amount of people in both kins (on both accounts.) I see bands playing in Bree (on Landroval.)

So pretty much situation normal. I have no idea what to do, though. Maybe just wait for Mirkwood. I’m not grinding Mordor gear. Today I have a bunch of art to do for my game project, anyway.

A drawing of a fairy. A gnome merchant, maybe with a burro. Or maybe a flying transport carpet? My world is pretty low/medium magic though.

Maybe it shouldn’t be low magic? Maybe that’s just lazy and unimaginative?

I really improved my interface last week, and I put up a new splash screen for module three on Deviant Art.

Stock Market: Stacking Bleeds, And “Brain Hacking”

saturnine ball
So. The image above is from my game project. It’s the “Saturnine Ball”. It’s a gnomish invention, basically a very depressed magic 8-ball that you might encounter in module 2, if you make the right choices. It seems appropriate at the moment.

Gaming Stocks

As I wrote in my last post a month ago, the stock market was showing signs of a market top, with record numbers of moms and pops throwing money at a stock market going parabolic (vertical). I predicted a major pullback, and it has arrived.

I nibbled near the bottom of the first dip Tuesday morning, then sold back other equities late this afternoon when the market dropped again and passed the first levels, so I’m back to my initial level of investment (about 50%).

As of this afternoon, signs are pointing more towards this being a major crapstorm.

One problem of many is that everyone is still bullish. Our most recent big correction was in January 2016. That was triggered by a crash in oil. A lot of people then, including very big names, were saying to get out. Sell.

This time some of those same people, i.e. Carl Icahn, are saying no worries. This is actually very worrying, and illustrates how everyone is on the same side of the bull boat even after a week of selling.

According to Jim Cramer and others, the main cause of this market crash is leveraged investment instruments tied to volatility. Volatility exploded, and so did these investment vehicles. So big fund managers need to sell to cover their losses.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration announced they are pushing ahead towards a trade war with China in coming weeks. (I actually read the south China newspaper most days.) Rex Tillerson is getting some good street cred lately though, and he’s on the case.

There is also another government shutdown possible. I can also see Russia doing something politically horrible during the Olympics, since they were officially banned. Oil is also threatening to crash partly due to fears related to Venezuela sanctions. Shorting oil is a trade I’ve been looking at (SCO ETF). As normal, I’m too timid.

This might actually be “the big one.” This week so far is the worst since 2008 for the Dow, and since 2011 for the S&P. Milder pullbacks in 2016 took over 6 months of consolidation and fear before the market could move higher.

At the moment, I’ve taken small profits in Google and NetEase, and I’ve switched over to the Albemarle I’ve been wanting, and a half position in Redhat because I dream of a world free of Microsoft’s bloated leeching. So I’m not any more or less invested in the market since last August.

NetEase (NTES, major Chinese online game publisher and distributor), had a horrible earnings report yesterday, citing increased expenses and competition. That’s why I sold. This is basically my prediction for all of 2018 for gaming stocks – increased competition and more difficulty.

Take Two (TTWO) disappointed on earnings yesterday and was punished. The CEO, Strauss Zelnick, appeared on CNBC today for damage control. He talked up the numbers for GTA online. What? GTA: Online is ancient news, dude. I hope your sexist caveman game company dies in a fire.

Blizzard’s report today was excellent, in contrast.

NVidia crushed earnings even more than Blizzard, and is soaring today after hours. NVidia is close to my largest position, along with Alibaba and Tencent,all of which are up so much that they would have to drop another 50% before I would be concerned.

So I’m being patient right now. I’ll be looking to fill out my position in Red Hat at a lower level. I might add LabCorp(LH) to fill out my healthcare exposure. I’m also curious about Oak Tree Capital (OAK), which is getting hit hard along with all financials today. Basically stocks with very strong earnings reports, which are getting slaughtered regardless by the broad market.

Intel also looks more interesting and affordable as a gaming-related play (INTC). Chip stocks have been especially hurt (except NVidia). This is also a chance to buy Amazon or other favorite tech stocks.

Should I consider going back big into Blizzard for one more year? Or was Hearthstone and Overwatch a long-term peak, and they will need a new generation of games soon? It’s very hard for me to believe in longevity and customer loyalty in video games, enough to support these ESport leagues and therefore ongoing increases in revenues and profits.

Gamers are fickle creatures.

Square (SQ) is also interesting, but I’ve decided payments processing is just too vulnerable to long term disruption. Visa (V) may get a bump from the Olympics, but the Olympics might not be super-spectated. They always run commercials? I have no idea about the world of payments. Investing there would be just rolling dice.

Interest rates are currently rising in an uncontrolled way, which is another big problem. This is putting pressure on central bankers worldwide, putting more risk on risk assets, and also on “zombie corporations” that are only alive with massive debt on easy financing.

I’m curious about Oaktree Capital Group . It specializes in distressed debt. OAK is also an elf stock! Because “Oaktree”. Obviously.

I also still have EQIX on my long-term watchlist, which is a major data center lessor and operator. It’s under long-term pressure from rising interest rates however, because it is lumped heavily into real estate (REIT) ETFs, seemingly more than the telecoms.

It’s tempting to go all-in on the market here, but 2018 is likely going to be a long and difficult year in the stock market. I think a market drawdown of 20% is possible, especially if this fed “unwinding” of easing puts pressure on systems in unexpected and disastrous ways, which doomsayers have been predicting for quite a while now.

Gaming And Addiction

I’m so frustrated with Hearthstone. The long-awaited ranked revamp is a no-effort whatever. No game mode in Hearthstone is worth spending real-life time playing.

The rewards are trivial compared to the hours you spend making progress. In the case of arena, you actually mathematically lose gold. Meanwhile Blizzard nerfed some cards (be sure to go in and dust them), and there is an enticing new “deal” to buy 30 card packs for $20.

I’ve also tried to play some Tunnels and Trolls modules this week, for ideas and insight towards my own game project. I die every time!

Last night I was eaten by five vampire bats in Buffalo Castle! I died repeatedly in Naked Doom because I played as an elf with low Constitution! I only played for like 5 minutes. So that isn’t fun. But tonight I am back at it.

Hearthstone’s kobold dungeon has a similar brutal design principle. I wonder if brutality, hopeless suffering, and many deaths is actually addictive?

Roger MacNamee was saying on the Bill Maher show last Friday that social media is insidiously designed to addict us with articles that give a strong negative emotional reaction. Getting angry or afraid hacks our brains into creating an emotional bond through enhanced engagement.

The same concept is clearly relevant to video games.

So video game companies are creating addictive games with as many gambling mechanics as they can cram in, combined with emotion and frustration, and then shaking down kids for more and more of their lunch money, which will give better cards/gear to alleviate the pain.

The reason I can’t let go of Hearthstone, and its overly expensive costs, its absurd lack of class balance, and fumbling out-of-touch devs, probably involves various forms of addiction, sense of being too invested to quit, etc.

New Awesome MMO’s On The Way!

No. Not really. I can’t find any. Someone please make a new great fantasy MMO!

I looked at FFXIV:ARR this week. The last “news update” on their official website was from 2015. Their other official site link is an unreadable mobile-friendly eyestrain-fest. Good job, CM’s. But still, you know there are some sweet catgirls playing FFXIV.

I also looked at some Elder Scrolls gameplay on Twitch, and I just can’t do it. I’ve tried ESO a couple times, and I don’t like the interface, the lack of auction house, basically the whole MMO-designed-for-consoles thing.

So I’m looking at Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire coming this spring, but I need to finish the first one first. It’s installed! We’ll see. Happy gaming, and thanks for reading.